Sunday, January 29, 2012

Big News!

2:1 Conference Button

What a way to get back to blogging! Last week was a really hectic week with a full schedule, sick kids and a sick mommy. My inbox was overflowing with emails I had no time to read and my blog posts were hanging in a draft status with no pictures due to a still missing USB cable for my camera. Not good!

I cautiously peeked at my inbox tonight when I got everyone tucked in and found a wonderful email from the Homeschool Classroom telling me that I won the last ticket giveaway to the Titus 2:1 Conference. Eeeek!!!

I can't wait to get there. I know I am going to be so blessed just to have some "iron sharpening" time with some other homeschooling bloggy moms!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

31 Days to Clean Review ~ Day 2

I have often thought of my home (not the house itself) as a living breathing thing. The space where we are together as a family has a life and functions much like a body with us its members and prayerfully, Jesus its heart.

I have always focused more on the people than the dwelling and I believe that is as it should be. However, it is an unavoidable truth that the dwelling will affect its occupants.

Mary Challenge: Start looking at your domain as something to make come alive! What can you do today to bring life to your home, your children, your husband, and your sphere of influence?

On a very practical level, I can open window blinds and doors, let the light in. I can bring plants indoors. Plants naturally filter the air and can help eliminate toxins given off by our furniture and flooring thus, improving the mood of all in the house.

I can add scripture to every room of my house. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. I have had a cabinet of scripture plaques for some time. A big thank you to my husband for hanging them. This also decluttered that cabinet :)

Martha Challenge: Kitchen – Clean out and scrub down the refrigerator and freezer. Try using 2 tablespoons of baking soda per 1 quart hot water to wash interiors.

Here we go: This one is pretty self explanatory – clean out the fridge and freezer.

Cleaning out the fridge is also a good time to eliminate some of those processed foods that have crept in over time. As we are also revamping our diet, this is the perfect time for a purge.

Be sure to check the dates on everything and toss out anything that has gone bad. Replace baking soda boxes that help to eliminate odors.

In addition to the one mentioned in the challenge, our basic “go-to” cleaner in the Langford home is vinegar and water mixed together in a clean spray bottle. Add a few drops of sweet orange oil for a clean, citrus scent.

(Pictures coming tomorrow)

Monday, January 23, 2012

31 Days to Clean Review ~ Day 1

I was super thrilled with Day one of the book, especially the challenges. There is no cleaning involved. That may sound a bit lazy, and maybe it is but it is perfect for me. I need a day or so to really wrap my mind around any new concept, or any old concept that I have been avoiding.

I also loved that the first chapter, like many of the other chapters in this book was short enough to read through in just a couple of minutes. Really, if we are reading a book about cleaning, we need more time to clean, not read.


It took me more than a few minutes to make my list of reasons that I want a clean house. In fact, I made my initial list, left it then, came back and added to it. Here is what I came up with:

~I want a clean house because:

~I want to feel comfortable practicing biblical hospitality;

~I want my home to be a haven and a sanctuary for my family;

~I want my home to be visually peaceful;

~I want to be calm and peaceful for my family in a way that I can only be when I am not stressed about the state of my house;

~I want my husband to rest in the fact that he can always invite someone over with no notice and not be ashamed of his house;

~I want to set expectations in my sons for their future wives;

~I want to set an example for my daughters and teach them how to keep a clean and comfortable home.

WOW!! That is a lot of information to formulate into one mission statement. I did think for a moment that I would rather be cleaning :)

Here is the Langford Clean House Mission Statement:

I will work diligently to provide a clean and clutter-free home for the health, peace and confidence of my family.


This was SO much easier! Scanning through the Martha challenges was pretty simple. Most projects required cleaning supplies and tools that I already have on hand.

If you are taking this challenge with me, don’t run out and buy too much. I will be sharing some daily recipes for chemical free cleaners that do a fantastic job of cleaning your house, cost less money and do not require you to sacrifice your health due to chemical exposure.

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Joyful Parenting Review ~ Day 5

5. Today I will pray to speak only STRONG words, words that make these children feel strong. Grace words. Grace is the only non-toxic air. All other words I breathe are death words.

Strong words, grace words are so important to us because we truly believe that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We can speak both blessing and cursing over and into the lives of our children. We as parents must choose to speak blessing and grace. Our children will thrive in an atmosphere of grace.

Speaking only strong words is not just a practice but a habit we are developing with several measures and action steps to insure our success.

1. Whenever we feel that we will say something toxic or weakening to our children or, as husband and wife, to each other, we simply stop. We say nothing. There is no shame in silence. There is no pain or toxicity in silence.

2. At least once a day, we bless our children. Spoken blessing is powerful! I highly recommend the book Imparting the Blessing by Ligon.

3. We praise our children at every opportunity. Sometimes praise for the smallest accomplishment or progress is the springboard to great achievement.

4. We pray for each of our children daily, out loud, by name. Not only do they know that we love them enough to mention them to our Father but, their faith increases as they see our prayers for them answered. They even begin to ask for prayer in specific areas.

5. When we mess up, we apologize and ask for forgiveness. It is humbling to ask our children for forgiveness.

6. As husband and wife, we hold each other accountable for the words spoken in our home. We also hold the children accountable for the way they speak to each other. Everyone has the right to say, your words are hurting me. This can be delicate territory as sometimes, the truth hurts but, it can be spoken in love.

May our children breath in the clean air of grace and flourish under the blessing!

About a year ago I read Ann Voskamp's blog for the first time. I fell in love with her writing style and her heart that shines through her words. After consuming every part of her blog in just a couple of days, I happened upon her Parenting Manifesto of Joy. I read it several times and then printed it. I posted a copy in my office near my computer so I could read it every morning before I wake my children. The above review is based on one point of that Manifesto.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Frugal Friday ~ The Thrifty List

I don’t recall ever being in a thrift store or at a yard sale until I met my husband. He introduced me to a whole new world of thriftiness before it was cool! Now, I am a thriftaholic. I plan my thrifty shopping trips around the Goodwill half price weekends and prime yard sale time is a whole other season all it’s own in my house.

Our kids even get in on the action. Yard sale shopping is called “treasure hunting” because you never know what treasure you will find. Our oldest daughter did all of her Christmas shopping this past year at a weekly indoor yard sale at our homeschool co-op.

The only problem I have ever had with yard sale and thrift store shopping is getting so caught up in the “stuff” that I forget what I am really looking for. I get home and then remember a great craft or repurposing project that I could have bought the materials for at just pennies if I had remembered.

My new plan is to keep a running list. I keep one on my fridge for the items we run out of in the kitchen just in case someone makes an extra trip to the grocery store. The list is easy to access in the kitchen with a pencil nearby and easy for the person running out to the store to rip off and take along.

I am hoping the same thing will work with my thrift store shopping. I have posted my list on my hand-dandy organizer from 31 Gifts. This organizer hangs right in front of my computer where I find most of my crafting and repurposing ideas on Pinterest.

You can order one of these great organizers from my friend Tracy's website here.

Our computer is also located in the center of our home and the desk has a supply of pens. This should work!!

Whenever I see an item that I could make or am reminded that there is an item that we are in need of for the house, I just add it to the list. When I go to the thrift store, I have a specific list of items I am sure to check for. If I find them, great! If not, they stay on the list until the next trip.

12 Habits in 12 months in 2012

My husband came home the other day and announced that Dave Ramsey said “resolutions are for losers who plan to fail.” Thanks Dave! He further informed me that “Dave said” we should set goals and put time constraints on them if we plan to succeed.

I began thinking about resolutions. This is the first year that I really haven’t been motivated to make any. In previous years I have written down my resolutions, decorated the pretty paper and posted them on the fridge.

This year, however, I just wasn’t feeling it. Perhaps this is because those resolutions never make it past Valentine’s day. Why is that? I believe it is because, for all of our effort in the first few days or weeks of the year, it is too easy to fall back into old habits. And there is that word again…habit.

I sat through a wonderful workshop at a homeschool conference a year or so ago given by Sonya Schafer of Simply Charlotte Mason. The workshop was called “Laying Down the Rails.” The seminar related children’s regular habits and behaviors to the rails a train runs on. Once those rails are laid, the train will naturally follow them.

In order help our children be successful, we should not only instruct them but help them form new and healthy habits. Eventually, with repetition, the new habit becomes the rail.

At 5:45 this morning, it hit me! I don’t need resolutions, I need new habits. I don’t just need to break my bad habits, I need to replace them with beneficial, healthy habits. This makes sense. You don’t just tell your toddler “no,” you redirect him.

I remember reading a long while back in some bible study or other that it takes 21 days to form a habit. When it comes to changing behavior, I consider myself a slow learner. So, why not allow 30 to 31 days.

One new habit per month in 2012, this is my proposal. Surely, with the extra 10 day allowance, I can manage one habit per month! Here is where I began:
First I listed the twelve habits that I would most like to develop in 2012. Then I prioritized them and here is the list I came up with:

Rising early
Staying Home
Keeping a Schedule
Exercising Regularly
Daily Blogging
Daily Cleaning
The opposite of procrastinating…whatever that is? Diligence??
Menu Planning
Tracking calories/food choices
Using only Strong Loving Words
Purposefully Nurturing Relationships

I know what you may be thinking, “Rising Early first?” Here is my logic. It seems to me that if I can only get out of bed earlier, my day will begin earlier thus allowing me more time for the other habits I want to develop. Makes sense, right?? I think so!

This post is coming a little late but, I have already been working on this habit. My mom is helping me. She is picking me up at my house at 6:00AM most mornings and driving me to the gym.

My wonderful husband is waking my kids and getting the chore routine started before I get home. Things are going quite smoothly around here.

Here is the challenge:

1. Make your own list of prioritized 12n12n12 habits.
2. Share your list by linking to this post for accountability.
3. Share your progress and follow the progress of others on twitter #12n12n12
4. Don’t give up! If you fall off the wagon, get back up again. New rails take time to lay down!

Please use the button below in your posts so others can find you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Green Pest Control ~ A Battle Tale

I do not like bugs. No bugs of any kind do I like. Anyone who knows me, knows this. I run from bugs and scream like a little girl when they are after me. Of course, they are after me. It is a known fact in the bug world that any bug who can bite or sting me will be elevated to insect royalty. There is a bug bounty on my head!

Knowing my aversion to the little creatures, God blessed me with my best friend. Her husband, Brian, is a pest control guru.

One of the most common insects I deal with in my house is gnats. I love to buy those big bags of ripe bananas from the grocery store for 99 cents. Unfortunately, a few little critters always come home in the bag.

Once upon a time, the gnat army executed a well planned and orchestrated attack on my kitchen. What seemed like several thousand of the best of the extreme warrior gnats hid in the perfect bag of bananas that I was sure to pick up on my stroll through the produce section. When I got the bag home, they swarmed out like a wave at my head.

I did everything I could to fend them off, but it was to no avail. I even tried my old trick of luring them into the microwave with a ripe banana, slamming the door and nuking them.

Of course, I always thoroughly clean the microwave after resorting to this battle tactic.

It didn’t work this time. I was outnumbered and being overtaken.

They were winning the battle on all fronts. I knew I had no choice but to call for reinforcements. I called Brian, knowing that he would bring out some big-gun chemical to eradicate the invaders. I typically avoid chemicals at all costs but this was a matter of life and death.

Much to my surprise, Brian shared with me his secret gnat weapon – apple cider vinegar in a jar!

I ran for my recycle or repurpose bin where I was collecting empty yogurt containers to start my garden seeds in. I pulled out a few containers, filled them halfway with vinegar, covered them with foil and punched small holes in the top.

I spread gnat traps like land mines throughout my house, with a heavy concentration in the kitchen. Slowly but surely, they were all lured into the traps by the sweet smell of the vinegar.

The next day I had yogurt cups full of drowned gnats. Victory was mine!

I then created the ultimate gnat trap – a repurposed glass jar with screw on lid with holes punched in the top. It sits safely hidden on my kitchen counter with just enough vinegar to attract any new little pest brave enough to stow away in my bananas.

...and I lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Joyful Parenting Review ~ Day 4

4. Today, when stress mounts, I pray to dismount it with gratitude. My stress management plan will be verbal thanks. I can feel only one feeling at a time, and I choose to give thanks at all times. Fight feeling with feeling!

This one has been the biggest life changer for me and the key is one simple word – VERBAL! Gratitude must be shown outwardly and expressed verbally.

When we appreciate something someone has done for us or given to us, we say thank you. We speak our thanks. We do not assume that they will know that we are thankful. We do not expect them to read our minds. The same should be true when we are thankful for the gifts and mercies of our Father.

When we speak our thanks not only do we impact ourselves but those around us. As mothers, we have the opportunity to speak life into our children. When they hear us being thankful, even in difficult and stressful situations, it is life-giving and even life changing for them.

By this simple practice the culture of our home is transformed from one of stress, doubt and faithlessness into a culture of abundance, joy and gratitude. Giving thanks allows me to be more joyful with my husband, children and all those I come in contact with.

Based on this principal I have even added a gratitude list to my children’s Daily Notebook.

About a year ago I read Ann Voskamp's blog for the first time. I fell in love with her writing style and her heart that shines through her words. After consuming every part of her blog in just a couple of days, I happened upon her Parenting Manifesto of Joy. I read it several times and then printed it. I posted a copy in my office near my computer so I could read it every morning before I wake my children. The above review is based on one point of that Manifesto.

Weekly Scripture Memory: January 16-23

Romans 6:5-6

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

This is our new scripture memory box. Definitely one of my new favorite things!

Read a post about how we use this box and work on scripture memory here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weekly Recipe ~ Missy's Banana Bread

This Banana Bread is great for breakfast or with a cup of hot tea in the evening. It is so easy but there are a few key ingredient modifications that make it irresistible!


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 Cups Flour
2 Eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup walnuts

Yummy Modifications:

1. I use fresh ground hard red wheat flour.
2. I use REAL butter, no margarine!
3. I use unbleached natural raw sugar or sucanat.
4. I use VERY ripe bananas (almost mushy)like these:


Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Combine dry and wet ingredients. Mix in bananas with mixer until smooth or desired texture. Stir in walnuts. Transfer to greased loaf pan and bake on 350 for 50-55 minutes.

The finished product is delicious. This is one of those quick and easy recipes that is perfect for coffee with company. While baking, the bread makes your house smell warm and inviting. Enjoy!

31 Days to Clean Review

I recently had the privilege to read Sarah Mae's 31 Days to Clean. I did not do all of the suggested activities in the book. I wanted to read the book first to see what I might be getting into.

Each day provides a chapter to along with a Mary Challenge and a Martha Challenge. I was really worried about committing to the challenges of this book because I like to think of myself as more of a Mary than a Martha. Translation: I like to read and write much more than I like to clean :)

After some consideration and reworking of my daily schedule with the new year, I think the 31 Day challenge is completely doable.

Will you take the challenge with me? You can get your own copy of the book by clicking the link below. We start on Monday, January 23rd!

Click here to visit Sarah Mae.

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 30 Day Focus

Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness
Character Trait/Habit: Diligence
Composer: Telemann

Poet:Rudyard Kipling

Artist: Degas

Hymn: I Surrender All

Go here to see how we incorporate each focus point for the month.

In addition to the ways listed in the previous post, I have now incorporated many of these monthly focus ideas into our daily notebooks. To see some printable sheets and all of the pages included in our daily notebooks, check out next Monday's homeschooling post.

Joyful Parenting ~ Day 3

3. Today, I will not have any emergencies. There are no emergencies! Only amateurs hurry.

It took me a few times reading this one to get it, really get it. I got caught up in the thoughts of the emergencies that I have each day. You know, the ones that leave us running breathless through the house and speeding down the freeway late for every appointment we have.

My mind seemed to want to argue with this whole concept. There was flood of “what about this” and “isn’t this considered?”

Finally, I got it. Nothing happens in my day that my Father doesn’t know about. He is aware of all that is happening and He is in complete control of it all. He knew that as soon as I was ready to walk out the door for a doctor’s appointment, the baby would have one of those massive blow out poops and need to be cleaned up and completely redressed. He knew that the three year old would sneak out the front door to go play with the chickens with no shoes or jacket. He also knew I would panic when I realized he was no longer playing in the clean socks. He knew about the call I would get in the middle of the night that my husband was hurt on the job.

If I truly believe that He is sovereign then, why hurry? If my Father has is already on the scene protecting my children, caring for my husband and showing me favor then why rush?

Homeschool Monday ~ A Schoolroom...or Not

I have attempted to write a post about my favorite school rooms and my own personal school room for a while now but it just hasn’t happened. Most folks who know me know that I do my best to live outside of the proverbial box in every way I can. It occurred to me that it wasn’t absolutely necessary to have an actual school room with school desks. What if my kids would be more comfortable in other areas of the house? Would it be more convenient to have them doing school where I could also be doing dishes or folding laundry while answering questions? Don’t be deceived, our house is not huge at all but, with a toddler, three school age kids and all the housework that comes with a family, I often wish that I could be in several rooms at once. With that in mind, I finally took the plunge and pulled my school room apart and moved my kidos to the kitchen table. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a good bit of schoolroom envy. In fact, here are a couple of my favorites.

This is the Murphy Academy schoolroom complete with giant whiteboard, networked computers and some fancy lighting.

This is Edie's from garage transformed into a schoolroom.

I still get the urge to go IKEA shopping when I look at those rooms but, I have finally realized that it would just be money wasted if the whole “room” thing doesn’t really work for me. When I was a new homeschooling mommy, all I wanted was a school room. We lived with my parents the first year we homeschooled and our entire school spaced consisted of a corner of my mom’s dining room where my two oldest sat at their little two seat children’s table and a 5 shelf bookshelf in another corner. One of the things I looked most forward to in moving into my newly remodeled house was my school room. We have made it work for 4 years now but only because that is what I that I needed to “properly educate” my children.

For a few weeks now, the older children have been doing school at the kitchen table where I can teach and do dishes at the same time. I have one small bookshelf where the kids keep the things they need to do school each day.

I love it! Our school room has been transformed into some multi-purpose space. It is part playroom but it also now houses our computer which was moved out of our office. This has also proved helpful. I can now do the family accounting, blogging and anything else that I need the computer for without being tucked away in our office.

Our office has also been transformed. This is my favorite part!! The old office is now our library! EEEKKK!! My own personal library complete with organized and cataloged books. I have in heaven!! I admit it. I am one of those weird souls that gets a strange endorphin release from seeing shelves lined with books, that are MINE!

Anyway, the point is that your school space, and your entire house for that matter, should work for you and your family no matter what the norms are.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blogging on Purpose: Why I want to go to the 2:1 Conference!

God’s timing is amazingly perfect. I find myself standing in awe of Him yet again, just marveling at Him. God doesn’t just give us the answers we seek, He gives them at the exact moment we need them.

I have been praying and seeking God’s guidance, for what seems like an eternity now, about several areas of my life, some more important than others.

First, I have asked my Father for a while now to give me strong friendships and community with women who not only encourage me but challenge me and stretch me.

Second, I have been asking God whether or not I should blog. I have worried that blogging was just another one of those time wasting activities that took time from my home, children and husband. I love blogging as an outlet for me but when the rubber of time meets the road of my schedule, is blogging really good stewardship of my time? Also, if I am going to blog, I want some purpose for it. I am not one to run around wasting time on things and activities that have no Kingdom value.

Finally, with regard to the second question, I asked my husband “should I blog or not?” His response shocked me. “Absolutely,” he said “you should definitely blog!” Really?? I had no idea he had any opinion at all about me blogging, much less that he felt so strongly about it.

He asked me if I felt ministered to by the blogs I read regularly. Of course, I do. He asked me if reading blogs of other like minded women gave me that sense of community that I felt I was missing. I realized that it did. Then came the big question, “Don’t you want to offer the same thing to other women who might be in a similar situation? Isn’t that a worthy ministry?” Wow! There I sat on my bed with my mouth hanging open. Several answers all wrapped up in one with a pretty red bow! I was thrilled but I needed a more specific purpose. I had more questions and I got answers.

My blog has always been about my family, our life and all of the things we do, large and small that make us who we are. How could that really minister to anyone? As I was reading an old post I had written about "Worship as a Way of Life," it hit me. Our life is and should be worship. Every tiny thing we do in the day to day should declare the glory of God. I was hit in the face with Colossians 3:23

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

There was my purpose! We are doing life to the glory of God and sharing it.

I wanted to spend my whole day writing posts, redesigning my blog and linking up with others. I wanted to make reservations for every blogger's conference around and sign up for every “bloggy help” service available. Unfortunately, neither my schedule nor my budget would allow for any of that. Imagine my surprise when I saw this post waiting in my inbox from Amy at Raising Arrows. She is offering a chance to win a free ticket to the 2:1 Homeschool Blogging conference for simply posting about why you want to go. So, here is my post:

I want to go to the blogging conference because I now have a purpose and a clear vision for my blog, I am an information junkie and I want to consume all that I can to improve my blog in the shortest time possible and I am just dying to attend my first ever blogging conference!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Joyful Parenting ~ Day 2

2. Today I will transfigure all things into beauty, and I will refuse to see anything else.

This one was difficult for me. I am not an overly negative person. Typically, I am a “glass half full” kind of girl, but it’s not always easy, as a mom, to find the beauty in the juice spilled on the kitchen floor or the chocolate stains on the couch. We can’t always see the artistry in the masterpiece drawn on the bedroom wall or the loveliness of the finger prints on the windows. Temper tantrums of toddlers don’t always sound like a symphony to our ears and the arguments of brothers and sisters are far from the sounds of sonnets recited. The endless strings of “Mom, I need ….” never seem to make us catch our breath in wonder and awe but there is beauty to be found in each one if we choose to see it.

The juice may have been spilled by a six year old now independent enough to pour her own drink when the doctors said that she would never live, much less walk. The chocolate stains may be from a little boy with growth issues who now taking in more than is required calories for the day thanks to some Nestle Quick. The masterpiece on the bedroom wall may be better than any poster you could have offered the 10 year old boy to decorate his room because he is incredibly gifted. The fingerprints on the freshly washed windows may be from a girl who can’t stand to miss a moment of what is going on with the animals outside.

There is a precious beauty in it all.

Find the Ann Voskamp's complete Parenting Manifesto of Joy here.